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Pollution Prevention

In 1989, Congress passed amendments to the Clean Water Act requiring states to address the increasing problem of runoff pollution into storm drains, which carry untreated water directly into nearby waterways. California began requiring a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for stormwater discharges, also called non-point source discharges. Each municipality must comply with San Francisco Bay Municipal Regional Stormwater Permit (MRP). To save costs and share information, San Mateo County and all its cities together formed the San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention Program (SMCWPPP), formerly STOPPP (San Mateo Countywide Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program). Each municipality shares in general program tasks but must maintain its own stormwater pollution prevention program.

Pollution Prevention Program

The San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention Program (SMCWPPP) developed its own stormwater management plan consisting of five major pollution prevention and control sections:

  • Municipal Maintenance Activities
  • Industrial & Illicit Discharge
  • Controls Public Information/Participation
  • New Development & Construction Controls
  • Watershed & Monitoring

Each of the plan's sections describes goals, existing conditions and tasks that will be accomplished over a five-year period.

Municipal Maintenance Activities

The efforts by Pacifica streets division staff make a big difference in protecting water quality. Municipal maintenance activities reduce pollutant load into waterways through street sweeping, cleaning catch basins and storm lines, and removing material from drainage channels. Pacifica's streets division staff cleans over 88.9 miles of streets with 989 catch basins and averages about 48 cubic yards of waste removed each year. Contact public works at 650-738-3760 to report a plugged storm drain or debris-filled catch basin.

Another part of the municipal maintenance component is the collection and recycling of materials and waste. Contact Recology of the Coast at 650-355-9000 for information on non-hazardous recyclables and the San Mateo County Household Hazardous Waste Program at 650-363-4718 for hazardous recyclables and waste.

Industrial & Illicit Discharge Controls

Illicit discharges are releases of pollutants or non-stormwater to the storm drain system. Source control and the streets division staff respond to calls from the public or incidents discovered in the field. If the discharging party is present, they are educated about their pollution contribution and asked to clean up the material they illegally discharged where possible. Sometimes they are given a warning notice of violation while other occasions warrant a citation. The streets division may be able to clean up the material if it is still on the street or captured in the catch basin. Cost recovery by the discharging party is pursued if appropriate. However, many times it's simply too late and the material enters the waterway.

Report Stormwater Pollution

The MRP includes specific requirements for Permittee’s implementation of a stormwater pollution prevention inspection program for industrial and commercial facilities. The City of Pacifica Stormwater Industrial/Commercial Business Inspection Plan and MRP includes specific requirements for identifying applicable businesses by their Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Code and/or functional aspects of the business and requires facility inspection prioritization, based on the potential for stormwater discharge pollution.

The City of Pacifica is using a private contractor, EOA, Inc., to conduct these industrial and commercial facility inspections. An inspection invoice will be sent to each business inspected. Fees shall conform to Administrative Policy No. 2.

Public Information/Participation

Public information and participation is one of the keys to preventing stormwater pollution. The better the general public understands what causes stormwater pollution and the simple things that can be done about it, the cleaner the waterways, bay and ocean will be. The program provides pamphlets on stormwater pollution prevention to the public and can be found in the engineering offices at the public works corporation yard at 155 Milagra Drive. The public works department also marks all water inlets, notifying residents that the water does not go through a treatment process, but flows directly into creeks and/or the ocean.

New Development & Construction Controls

The new development section of the stormwater program addresses pollution during construction projects, including sediment and erosion control as well as incorporating permanent controls into project designs. The City of Pacifica Specifications and General Conditions of Approval, which apply to all projects, contain language requiring stormwater pollution prevention practices. Contractors are informed of the Best Management Practices (BMPs) required on all construction projects. For more information on new development and construction controls, contact the building division at 650-738-7344.

Watershed & Monitoring

The watershed and monitoring component of the stormwater plan conducts special studies to determine which prevention techniques work best and where to focus pollution prevention efforts. A watershed is that area of land that would drain rainwater to a particular waterway based on topography. The amount of imperviousness in a watershed is important because, once it approaches 40 percent, the receiving waterway starts to show significant degradation. By finding out which watersheds can best be preserved, agencies can focus planning efforts appropriately. Pacifica is made up of 19 major watersheds. Currently, the drainage master plan is being updated and a study is being performed on San Pedro Creek by the San Pedro Creek Watershed Coalition. Samples of the creek will be analyzed using a new DNA test to identify the sources of some bacterial pollution.

Program Enforcement

The City's Code Enforcement Officer is responsible for the enforcement of the city’s stormwater pollution prevention program. Enforcement will occur in the form of letters and informal violation notices exerting increasing pressure to comply. If a good faith effort to comply is not witnessed, a citation will be issued. It is the policy of the program that education be the primary means used to gain compliance.

Green Infrastructure Planning and Implementation

The City of Pacifica completed the City's Green Infrastructure Plan for the inclusion of low impact development drainage design into storm drain infrastructure on public and private lands, including streets, roads, storm drains, parking lots, building roofs, and other storm drain infrastructure elements.

Green Infrastructure resources and websites

Green Infrastructure Manual on Green Building and Stormwater Compliance 

C3 Guidance Manual on Stormwater Compliance 

New Development Checklist 

Related County SMCWPPP/NPDES Websites

San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention Program (SMCWPPP)
Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association (BASMAA)
San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB)
California Department of Fish and Game (DFG)
Bay Area Hydrology Model

Pharmaceutical Drug Disposal

Visit the planning department's stormwater compliance page for additional information on responsibly dealing with storm drains and run-off water.

Users of this site may access the World Wide Web through links listed in this web site. The City cannot control information accessed after leaving this web site. The City is not responsible for the contents, accuracy, or veracity of any of the information contained on offsite web pages, nor does the provision by the City of links to non City web sites constitute the City's endorsement of those sites. The City of Pacifica provides the links only as an informational courtesy. Reference on any City web page to any commercial product, service or process does not constitute or imply the City's endorsement, recommendation, or favoring of that product, service, or process.